Monday, 17 August 2015

The Festival of 35

Another year, another birthday. I must admit, the excitement was not the same as a few years ago - 35 sounds pretty middle-aged to me. Actually, I was pretty bummed about the prospect of edging closer to 40 and entering what I imagine is the second half of my life. Kiddies, a super-attentive husband and some cake baking sort of dispelled the whiff of desperation that was hovering around.
And then my family came, my mom, my brother and his brood and the house was full of laughter, singing and candle-blowing and I instantly felt better.
My mom brought me the best of gifts - a perfume and an orchid.

Prada's Infusion d'Iris has been a favorite for quite a while. I love its clean, uncomplicated smell, with some pretty powerful undertones.

The 100 ml bottle came with quite a few samples and I'm loving all of the Prada Candy varieties.

Just look at this beauty! It really made my day. I just hope we'll be friends for a long time and she'll bloom again and again - I'm determined to make this one a keeper, despite my previous disastrous record with orchids...

Having trouble staying away from the sales, I treated myself to another pair of  Clarks:

These will be perfect for walking the cobblestones and broken sidewalks of Belgrade this fall while taking my daughter to school and trying to get to work on time. They can be worn in the rain, another bonus, not to mention how delightfully comfortable these are - for me, that's what I get from Clarks shoes. After I got my first pair last summer, I now own four and I have never looked back.

I have a few drinks with friends scheduled throughout the week, so the festivities continue, an my man has his birthday later in the week as well. Lots of Leo action going on in our family!

I have a 'books I've read so far in 2015' post lined up, however, I can't seem to get around to finishing it these days. Will have to have another crack at it soon.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

The Long and the Short Of It

Actually, I'll aim for as short as possible this time.

The hairy situation:  Slowly, over the past few years, I've slipped into the 'I have to die my hair every six weeks' situation. Putting not to fine a point on it - I'm hopelessly grey! Underneath the layers of L'Oreal die, I'm all silvery white, and while I will for sure at some point in the future give up and go au naturel, we are not there yet folks. Hence, the trip to the hairdresser's every six weeks. It is a nuisance in a way that I do not like when my grey roots show up - which usually happens around week four - but then I stick with them for a little while longer before hitting the salon. However, once in there, it's pure joy. And for the following reasons:
1. The staff are super nice and, as I have been a regular for the past eight years, they know me well and know what I like, what kind of hairstyles work for me and when is the time to try a new shade of die or a new hair cut. I never protest, I just let them work their magic and I've never regretted it.
2. There is always a copy of the newest Vogue UK laying around which promptly ends up in my lap, I'm served a cup of the finest filter coffee to be had around here and after initial inquires as to the current situation in the household, I'm left on my own, quietly sipping coffee and reading while the die is being applied and then sitting on my head for whatever amount of time necessary.
3. The restorative and transforming power of hair color and haircut/blow dry is never lost upon me. I look and feel 100% better after every visit, my head feels so much lighter, both physically and metaphorically speaking, after I'm given a special massage while my hair is being washed and it never fails to give me a special bounce in my step.

The sales situation: Yes, I've managed to fit in a few visits to the shops, and the latest two purchases made me happy!

The white and silver cap toe flats from Clarks, in wide fit - apart from a very good sales price, it is the wide fit that won me over. These really fit like a glove and have the softest sole padding, as is the case with all other Clarks I own and am very happy with. These come in lieu of the LILU white and silver pointy toed ones - much as I loved the pink detail on the rubber sole, these are a much better fit and the price difference is considerable.

This came home with me as well as it was heavily discounted. It was worth a wait as it will combine brilliantly with other stuff in my wardrobe to take me through to fall.

And to finish this off with some breaking news - the tightest of my pre-pregnancy jeans fit! It was scientifically established this morning, after a quarter of an hour of careful observation in front of the full-length mirror in my hallway. No unsightly bulge anywhere around the midsection, hence no muffin top, showing off the bootay, what more could a girl ask for? Same favorable impressions were gained from trying out a part of my back-to-work wardrobe - some dresses, skirts and pants. I felt like popping something open and celebrating, however, being home alone with two underage children in my care, I settled for a lemonade ;)

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Why Getting All Dressed Up Matters

It seems so frivolous at times to be thinking/writing/reading about style when you consider all the horrible things going on in the world today - the refugees in the Calais, the war in Syria, the economic crisis, the renewed polarization of the world's politics (West vs. Big Bad East all over again), not to mention the environmental issues - or should these be the primary concern? Violence, corruption, poverty are rampant in my own country as in many other corners of the world. I read the papers, I watch the news, I know about these things - I'm not living under a rock. However, as desperate as these make me, I have no solution, no concrete action to take. Focusing on my family, my little universe, a few friends and the everyday is what I can manage and where I'm needed the most, so that is what I do.

An important part of staying on top of the everyday is organization and routine. I can manage chaos in small doses and at times, but constantly - it drives me crazy. That is why a streamlined repository for clothes, shoes and accessories, aka The Closet, is a must. Wardrobe space is precious in our apartment which means I have to be on top of things regarding the number of items I own. The situation is still a far cry from a carefully curated collection of items I love and enjoy, but I'm getting there slowly. Yet, this post is not about wardrobe organization. It's about why these things matter to me. Or, in other words, why personal style helps save my life in the madness of daily living.

Structure: getting dressed for the life I live first thing in the morning gives structure to my day. If I'm staying at home with the kiddos, it's the track suit bottoms and a t-shirt or an oversize men's shirt (my dad's), mundane, plane, but if it's clean and it fits, is made of cotton or other natural fabric - it's all that I need. Staying in my pj's past the breakfast time and I already feel anxious. If I'm dressed for the daily activities, then I can get on with them and that helps me stay focused and not just waste away the hours watching crappy TV all morning (although we've established that I do that sometimes as well;) Also, doing my face and hair is a part of this routine and even if I don't leave the house all day, I want to feel pulled together. I know this stems from the need to control the often uncontrollable in life, but it helps me.

Presentation: I work in an office environment where casual dressing is considered a no-no - no jeans, no casual Fridays, none of that. I have to look pulled together and exude a sense of authority as I often participate in meetings with officials where the corporate dress code is to be observed. As I spend most of my time at my job, that means that most of my closet is work clothes. I am, however, not the pant suit lady. My aesthetic is just different, more bohemian, less strict. So I find middle ground in order to comply. My blazers are soft, less structured and certainly not boxy (although I've recently found what represented a holy grail of unattainable clothing chimeras for me - the perfect black blazer), but in block colors. My trousers are of a classic cut but with interesting prints. I do wear pencil skirts as these hug my curves in all the right ways, but they are of interesting, textured fabrics. And I accessorize big time - scarves, jewelry, shoes, bags - you name it. This helps me stay true to myself while at the same time presenting the best version of me to my professional environment. I have ascertained in numerous occasions that the way you look may make or break a meeting, a presentation. Done properly, it projects the right image to your coworkers, partners and lets you achieve what you set out to do more easily. Which leads us to ....

Communication: Getting the right formula with the outfits also lets me show loud and clear to the world who I am without having to explain a lot. If you want to read the messages I give out through my clothes (and people do so, even if subconsciously), you may gather that I'm an open and forthcoming personality with a positive outlook, yet serious and determined when required. You may also understand that I'm a bit quirky with a flare for the unexpected. Or, at least, that is what I would want you to understand about me. That is what I get dressed up for and what I want to project with my overall look. This is an important part of non-verbal communication and I believe a vital one.

Appropriateness: Showing up so that your outfit matches the situation - the ultimate mastery of social context. It means to not show up over or underdressed, to not show disrespect, but primarily to feel good in what you're wearing and look comfortable. It is only when you're bien dans sa peau that you can really be appropriate and presentable. It's when you are wearing the clothes and your look, not the other way around. And that is the trickiest bit, the one that requires soul searching, understanding of the self and translating that knowledge in your wardrobe. I believe that is a life-long process, wisdom that is not attained lightly. But it is also the process I enjoy and the trial and error part is what makes it fun.

All this maybe reading a bit too much into what you put on yourself primarily not to walk around naked and protect your body from the elements. You can look at it that way. I prefer to look at it as an essential part of who I am, an opportunity for learning and growth and a process that makes me more considerate, less wasteful and more temperate as well.

As of mid September, when the real life strikes again, I will have to have this process down pat however. My outfits will have to be planned a week in advance (same goes for my elder daughter), laid out complete with all the trimmings the night before and put on in the morning with a very small margin for error - there will just be no time to change my mind. That means the next few weeks will be spent culling my wardrobe, distilling only the most essential items for the coming season, and loads of washing and ironing. Wish me luck!